Monday, January 23, 2012

‘Red Tails’ rule the skies

‘Red Tails’ rule the skies

By James Colt Harrison

It’s about time the Tuskegee Airmen, an African-American group of flyers during World War II, were honored for their exploits and efforts in defending the United States. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black aviators in the US military from 1940 to 1946. The military at that time was still racially segregated, as were many States back home. Because of this mind-set that was instilled in the hearts of many Americans, the Tuskegee men were subject to discrimination within the ranks of the Army. Despite these social obstacles, the men flew with distinction in missions in both Sicily and Italy.

Producer George Lucas, and director Anthony Hemingway (TV’s Treme ) have used a bit of a soft-soap approach to depicting the airmen, and most of them are near-angels. This gives a bit of a bland look to most of the cast, and only a few of whom branch out as individuals. The only recognizable members of the group are Oscar® winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. as a pipe-smoking Major who must inspire his men and handsome Terrence Howard as a Washington representative who is stiff and nervous.

Although there are several handsome young actors who make a fleeting impression in bit parts, none is ever developed as a personality by the director or screenwriter (John Ridley). There is one stand-out, however, and that is “Lightening,” played with youthfulness and charm and a touch of humor by David Oyelowo. Although he is singled out as the “lover-boy” of the outfit, he engages in what is a highly unlikely romance with a local Italian girl (Daniela Ruha). In those days, daughters were practically wearing chastity belts and “mamma” would not have let her out of sight, let alone allow her to engage in a sexual relationship with an American soldier. So, this episode doesn’t ring true.

Naturally, all the men wanted to do their jobs and get into the air and see some action. They were given some old P-40 fighters that were falling apart, but the men were still able to knock out a huge German munitions factory. Time after time, they completed their assignments with expertise and honor, but were not able to convince their white commanding officers to upgrade their planes to the more effective P-51s. Only after proving themselves as excellent airmen did Terrence Howard’s pleading with Washington produce the new planes.

The aerial combat scenes are, naturally, top notch in any George Lucas film. “Easy” (Nate Parker) is an ace fighter pilot and flight leader despite his love of the whiskey bottle. His scenes are exciting and breath-taking as he whizzes through the skies and shoots down the German Luftwaffe. Under the sharp eye of visual effects supervisor Craig Hammock, all the aerial scenes are real looking and pretty thrilling. The special effects are very good and do not look like a low budget affair.

Although Red Tails is an exiting film for aviation enthusiasts, we don’t learn too much about the Tuskegee Airmen themselves. Perhaps that should be the subject of a long and detailed PBS series such as Downton Abbey. Despite the lack of in-depth details about the brave men, Red Tails is definitely worth watching.

Visit our website for a free subscription of the ArtsNFashion Magazine. ArtsNFashion Magazine


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grants For Single Moms